Digital, interactive, and electronic artists the world over see recognition from Prix Ars Electronica as one of the highest honors in the field. From hybrid and interactive art to experimentation with sound, the festival amasses projects of the past year that are built on the most captivating concepts and executed with the highest precision.
The results of Prix Ars Electronica 2012 are in, and among the honorees are several sound artists and musicians who created works that take sound out of its ordinary context and use it to reflect science, space, the future, the past, and various themes that we don’t always associate with their sonic qualities. Here are some of our favorites from this year’s festival.
Jo Thomas – “Synchrotron”
Thomas’ musical piece is a composition of sounds generated by the Diamond Light Source particle accelerator in Oxfordshire, UK. Referred to as a “storage ring,” the accelerator is capable of circulating a particle beam for an extended period of time, reflected by the long duration of Thomas’ work. Within the large environment that houses the accelerator, she collected sounds from various types of machinery and created a symphony of scientific progress.
Samson Young – I am thinking in a room, different from the one you are hearing in now.
In 1969, Alvin Lucier produced his most well-known work, I Am Sitting in a Room, in which he rerecorded the same phrase over and over in a room until the resonant sounds within the space rose to the forefront, obscuring the repetition of speech. While Lucier was equipped only with a tape recorder and a room, Samson Young has brought the concept up to speed with modern technology. The subject sits silently while brainwave sensors detect the level of focus he is exerting. The sensors are connected to solenoid motors, and the more concentration the subject achieves, the more noise they make, creating a cacophony of percussive sounds. At its center, I am thinking in a room is an actual composition that the performers attempt to reproduce by focusing and unfocusing their brainwaves, an inexact method that results in a different product each time.
We told you about #tweetscapes a couple of months back. It’s essentially a map of Germany that indicates all Twitter activity within the country in real time. Each Tweet triggers a visual mark on the map as well as quick burst of audio. Consider how many Tweets are occurring at any given time, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what this can sound and look like. Then see it’s 3D visualization and be amazed all over again.
This is a piece you have to see up close to truly perceive… literally. BETWEEN | YOU | AND | ME consists of a light wall that only appears when you are close to it. Also in it’s vicinity, hypersonic speakers direct the sounds of various types of glass shattering depending on your position. Eckardt used an axe to personally smash different kinds of glass, from store windows to Christmas ornaments, ensuring a range of sound that explicitly shocks our senses.